Tag Archives: Wage

Employers Must Pay Piece Rate Workers Separate Hourly Compensation, Even Where Employer Maintains Minimum Wage Floor

Mercedes-Benz Motor Shop

Mercedes-Benz Motor Shop (Photo credit: Visionstyler Press)

The Second District published today Gonzalez v. Downtown LA Motors, LP, et al., Case No. B235292, __ Cal. App. 4th __ (2d Dist. Mar. 6, 2013).  Gonzalez is a wage and hour class action where the question presented was whether California’s minimum wage law requires an employer that compensates its automotive service technicians on a “piece-rate” basis for repair work must also pay those technicians a separate hourly minimum wage for time spent during their work shifts waiting for vehicles to repair or performing other non-repair tasks directed by the employer.  Defendant automobile dealership contended it was not required to pay the technicians a separate hourly minimum wage for such time because it ensured that a technician’s total compensation for a pay period never fell below what the employer refers to as the “minimum wage floor” — the total number of hours the technician was at work during the pay period (including hours spent waiting for repair work or performing non-repair tasks), multiplied by the applicable minimum wage rate.  The employer supplemented pay, if necessary, to cover any shortfall.

The Court of Appeal concluded that class members were entitled to separate hourly compensation for time spent waiting for repair work or performing other non-repair tasks directed by the employer during their work shifts, as well as penalties under Labor Code section 203, subdivision (a).  You can read more about the Gonzalez opinion here.

Judges and Attorneys

Associate Justice Victoria M. Chavez wrote the opinion for the court, with Presiding Justice Roger W. Boren and Associate Justice Judith Ashmann-Gerst concurring.  Appeal was taken from a judgment of Hon. Mary H. Strobel of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County.

Dickstein Shapiro, Arthur F. Silbergeld and Jennifer A. Awrey; Greines, Martin, Stein & Richland, Robin Meadow, Cynthia E. Tobisman, and Alana H. Rotter for Defendants and Appellants.

Gartenberg Gelfand Hayton & Selden and Aaron C. Gundzik; Law Offices of Neal J. Fialkow and Neal J. Fialkow for Plaintiffs and Respondents.

Curiale Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP and Felicia R. Reid for National Automobile Dealers Association as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendants and Appellants.

Nossaman LLP and John T. Kennedy for California Automotive Business Coalition as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendants and Appellants.

Fine, Boggs & Perkins LLP, John P. Boggs and David J. Reese for California New Car Dealers Association and Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendants and Appellants.

Altshuler Berzon LLP, Eve H. Cervantez and Eileen B. Goldsmith for California Employment Lawyers Association as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Respondents.

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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In an Employment Case, Denial of Class Certification Cannot Establish Collateral Estoppel Against Unnamed Putative Class Members

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The Court of Appeal for the Second District held that a denial of class certification cannot establish collateral estoppel against unnamed putative class members. Bridgeford v. Pacific Health Corporation, et al., No. B227486, 202 Cal.App.4th 1034 (2d Dist. Jan. 18, 2012).

Background

Plaintiffs Bridgeford and Tarin filed a class action complaint in May 2010 against Pacific Health Corporation and other entities, alleging that defendants committed numerous wage and hour violations, including (1) failure to pay wages due upon discharge or resignation, (2) failure to pay regular and overtime wages due semimonthly, (3) failure to provide meal breaks, (4) failure to provide rest breaks, (5) failure to provide itemized wage statements, (6) failure to pay minimum wages for time worked off-the-clock, (7) failure to pay overtime wages, and (8) unfair competition.  Id.

The trial court sustained a demurrer without leave to amend.  Id.  Plaintiff’s appealed, contending the trial court misapplied the doctrine of collateral estoppel in holding that their class claims are precluded, and there is no basis to dismiss their individual claims or their representative claims under the Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA) (Lab. Code section 2698, et seq.).

Discussion

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Surprising Side Effect of the Minimum Wage: Finishing High School

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The National Bureau of Economic Research report suggests a surprising effect of the minimum wage: finishing high school.  As reported by Kevin Lewis of the Boston Globe:

By curtailing low-wage/low-skill jobs, the minimum wage motivates young people to stay in school and become skilled. This effect then generates what the author calls an “educational cascade” by setting an example for the upcoming class of students. He estimates that the average male born in 1951 gained 0.2 years — and the average male born in 1986 gained 0.7 years — of high school due to the cumulative effect of the minimum wage.

Sutch, R., “The Unexpected Long-Run Impact of the Minimum Wage: An Educational Cascade,” National Bureau of Economic Research (September 2010).

By CHARLES JUNG

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Central District Remands Minimum Wage and Overtime Class Action for Failure to Satisfy CAFA Amount in Controversy

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The Central District remanded a putative minimum wage and overtime class action suit in Munoz v. Central Parking Sys., Inc., No. CV 10-6172 PA (RCx), 2010 WL 3432239 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 30, 2010) (unpublished).

Plaintiff’s complaint attempted to avoid removal, stating “[i]t is believed that the total sum owed to the Class alleged herein is less than $5 million, based upon the anticipated size of the Class and the amount in controversy for each member of the Class.”  Id. *1. Continue reading

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Top 10 List of Things to Know About California’s Wage & Hour Laws

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Jim Brown and Marc Koonin of the California Employment Law Letter offer a useful Top 10 list of “Need to Knows” about California wage & hour laws:

  1. Know California’s daily and weekly overtime rates for various hours worked;
  2. Overtime requirements apply to almost all types of wages, not just hourly wages or salaries;
  3. You must compensate employees for all hours you “suffer or permit” them to work;
  4. Be familiar with the specific “wage order” that applies to your workforce;
  5. Just because an employee is exempt as an executive, administrative, or professional employee under federal law, it doesn’t make him exempt under California law; Continue reading
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Southern District Rejects Argument That Wage Order 7-2001 Invalid

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In Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., Civil No. 09cv2051-L(CAB), 2010 WL 3339464 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 23, 2010) (slip op.) Defendant argued that provisions of Wage Order 7-2001 were invalid because the IWC, before adopting any new rules, regulations or policies, was required by Labor Code section 1173 to consult with the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to determine areas of potential overlap, which it is alleged to have failed to do because it delegated too much to the staff. Id. *2.  The court rejected this argument, agreeing with the California Court of Appeal in California Manufacturers Association v. Industrial Welfare Commission, 109 Cal. App. 3d 95, 122-23 (1980).

Defendant also argued that the action should be dismissed because the pertinent provision of Wage Order 7-2001 is not incorporated into Labor Code Section 1198. Section 1198 provides: Continue reading

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Labor Code Section 512 Does Not Apply to Public Employees

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The First District Court of Appeal held that Labor Code section 512 and IWC Wage Order No. 17 do not apply to public employees.  California Correctional Peace Officer’s Association, et al. v. State of California, No. A125679, 2010 WL 3248794 (Cal. Ct. App. 1st Dist. Aug. 18, 2010).  The California Correctional Peace Officers’ Association (CCPOA) filed a class action, contending that the State of California violated various Labor Code provisions, as well as wage orders promulgated by the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC), by failing to provide correctional officers with meal periods and by failing to pay for the missed wage periods. CCPOA argued that the Legislature intended that the State provide its correctional officers with meal periods as required by Labor Code section 512 and IWC Wage Order No. 17, and that the State must pay for missed meal periods as required by Labor Code section 226.7.  The court rejected this argument, holding that “the subject wage and hour statutes do not apply to public employees.”  Id. *1. Continue reading

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Labor Department Has Hired 250 New Wage-and-Hour Investigators, Representing a Staff Increase of One-Third

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As reported by Robert Pear of the New York Times yesterday, the Department of Labor has bulked up its staffing of wage and hour   investigators by one-third, or 250 investigators.  Mr. Pear reports that the Obama administration is paying particular attention to the pay practices in the healthcare industry “after finding that many hospitals and nursing homes do not pay proper overtime to nurses and other employees who work more than 40 hours a week.”

By CHARLES H. JUNG

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